Louise Fletcher, résumé coach and career blogger, suggested last week adopting techniques from real estate sales to make your résumé stand out from its hundreds or thousands of competitors. Before you turn up your nose at the idea of scientists using such tactics, read Dave Jensen’s Science Careers column from last October, “Focus Your Industry CV”. You will see some common themes.
Fletcher says that successful real estate ads sell more than a physical structure; they sell the dream of a new life. Before they talk about number of bedrooms and baths, home ads often talk about the neighborhood, surroundings, or lifestyle the new home can bring to its owners. Likewise, Jensen advises scientists and science students to focus their résumés on the needs of the employer rather than only discussing themselves. “The overwhelming question on the mind of the hiring manager as she scans your material,” Jensen says, is, ‘What’s In it For Me?'” Sell the potential employer on the dream of a new employee — you.
Just as listing the square footage of each bedroom probably won’t entice many home buyers, a job hunter’s list of experience and accomplishments aren’t likely to make much of an impact unless they’re put in the context of the hiring manager’s desires. That takes work, starting with solid research about the company and the open position.
Focusing your résumé like real estate agents focus their ads also requires not trying to appeal to everyone, Fletcher says. Instead, call attention to the elements of your experience most powerful and relevant for the “buyer” — employer — you’re targeting. In Jensen’s October column, he advises making a quick, compelling case in your résumé and cover letter for why the organization needs to hire you for the job. As Jensen notes, “With the number of people looking for jobs today, you need to look like a ‘must call’ in just 30 seconds,” Jensen says.
By taking a few hints from home sellers — and Science Careers columnists — you can put more punch into your résumé. And you don’t even have to learn the fine points of mortgage finance.